▲ 글로벌빌리지 게스트하우스의 늦은 저녁 모습
과거에는 자립지원을 위해 단순히 각각의 가정마다 암소 같은 가축을 보냈었다. 그러나 현재 재단에서는 학생들과 모든 가정들을 위한 교육, 국제 기아, 빈곤 그리고 환경파괴에 대한 지속 가능한 대책도 제공한다. 최근에는 지역사회는 물론 전세계의 농부를 돕고 가축을 구매하고 금전적인 지원으로 기아와 가난을 해결하기 위해 후원하고 있다.
또한 일반인을 대상으로 극빈 생활을 체험할 수 있는 특별 프로그램도 운영하고 있다.
참가자들을 가족 단위로 분류하여 실제로 빈곤층이 거주했던 집에서 살게 한다. 그곳은 과테말라의 집, 무너져 가는 아팔라치아의 오두막, 잠비아의 진흙 오두막, 유니세프에서 난민들을 위해 마련한 텐트, 그리고 도시 슬럼가이다.
빈곤 체험 글로벌빌리지(The Global Village)에 머물렀던 토마스 제퍼슨 스쿨(Thomas Jefferson School)의 한 학생은 “모두가 땔감을 모으거나 염소 젖을 짜는 등의 집안 일을 해야 했고, 불을 지펴 우리의 먹을 음식을 스스로 만들어 먹어야 했어요. 힘들었지만 서로 친교하며 별을 볼 시간을 가졌고, 학생들은 협력하며 더욱 긍정적인 경험을 만들었어요. 이 여행의 목적은 전세계에 현존하는 가난에 대해 이해하는 것입니다” 라고 말했다.또한 이 학생이 체험 내내 마음에 떠오른 한 의문은 “만일 모두가 누릴 수 있는 충분한 것이 있다면, 왜 모두 만족하게 나누어 가지지 못할까?” 라는 것이라고 했다.
Learning Sustainable Solutions to Global Hunger, Poverty, and Environmental Degradation
Nearly, one billion people around the world still live in extreme poverty. The Heifer
International enable families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity by linking communities and by bring sustainable agriculture, trade, and businesses to areas with a long history of poverty. The animals that they provide to the people in need is connected to both food and reliable income from agricultural products, such as milk, and eggs, that can be traded or sold at market. They would send people to teach the uneducated about agriculture, herding, and more.
According to one of the education staff from Germany, their motto is, “Passing on the Gift,”meaning that when each family passes on the gift to others, it leads to a sustainable society. When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings, and funding small businesses. The goal of every project is to help families achieve self-reliance by providing them the tools they need to sustain themselves.
In the past, they would send animals, like a Heifer, a female cow, that would help each individual family and then the whole society. But, now, the foundation consists of educational programs for students and families, promoting sustainable solutions to global hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation. They are currently helping local farmers, supporting the farmers around the globe by buying animals from, providing money for things they need, and teaching the visitors about solutions and things they could do to help the end of world hunger and poverty. There are special programs that allow people to experience the poor conditions that people in extreme poverty would experience in a daily base. In one program, they are divided into family units and sorted into a home, based on real places where people in poverty live. The five places are a Guatemalan home, a run-down Appalachia cabin, mud huts in Zambia, a UNICEF tent for the refugee camps, and the urban slums.
Here is a quote by a student from Thomas Jefferson School, “Everyone had to do chores, such as gathering wood or milking goats, most people had time to socialize and glance at the stars….While we were staying in the Global Village, we (the students) had to cook our own meals using a fire that we started ourselves. Despite difficulties with the heat and humidity, students cooperated and made the experience more positive than it would have been otherwise. The purpose of the trip was to try to understand poverty around the world.”
One question that the students had in mind throughout the whole experience was, “If there is enough for all, why don’t all have enough?